Statement by the Hellsinki Citizens' Assemly


By the


On 8 July, at approximately 8:00 p.m., “Alumni Network” Youth Organization Coordinator, ANTV Online TV Leader Emin Milli and one of “OL” Youth Organization’s coordinators, well-known video-blogger Adnan Hajizade, while sitting at a café together with their friends engrossed in political debate, two strangers broke into their conversation and started a fight. Mr. Hajizada and Mr. Milli went to file a complaint about the assault, but instead an investigator opened a criminal case against them detained Adnan and Emin as suspected persons for 48 hours and freed the attackers. All cafe workers and other people around them made testimony that these young people did not respond to the fist attacks of those persons and only protected themselves though were not very much successful since Adnan’s nose was broken as the result of the attack. On 10 July, Sabail District Court Judge Rauf Ahmadov issued a decision under article 221.2.1 (hooliganism) of the Criminal Code to sentence Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade to two months pre-trial detention. Despite of all pressure by local and international human rights organizations on July 20, Baku Appeals Court rejected the appeal by Adnan Hajizada and Emin Milli to the court’s earlier decision on two months of detention.

The authorities blame human rights defenders in politicizing this case of hooliganism. However, holding the court hearings closely contradicting the European Human Rights Convention and having two months of pre- trial detention for just hooliganism endorse the arrest’s political nature.

Shortly speaking about these young people Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizada had returned to Baku after attending universities in Germany and the United States, and fell into a loose circle of other Western-oriented young people. Emin started an online television channel and Adnan, who worked in public relations for BP, organized a youth group, OL, and began dabbling in video satire.

The internet is an instrument for the free expression of political opinions from all sides and needs to be vigorously protected and kept as open as possible. The Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly being committed to promote the values of human rights, democracy, and civil society condemns the unlawful detention and urges the government of Azerbaijan to:

  • Annul the pre-trial detention for investigation;
  • Show immediate proper medical aid to Adnan Hajizadeh;
  • Maintain fairness of the investigation process;
  • Stop prosecuting young activists.

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